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BASEBALL

Frank McCourt has no problem with Manny Ramirez playing in All-Star game

Dodgers owner says if fans vote him into the lineup, 'It'd be a great honor.'

May 29, 2009|DYLAN HERNANDEZ | ON THE DODGERS

CHICAGO — Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said he would like to see Manny Ramirez play in the All-Star game if fans vote him into the National League's starting lineup.

Ramirez, who is serving a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy, was fourth among NL outfielders in the first round of balloting. The top three will start in the game, which will be played July 14 in St. Louis.

"Do I want to see him?" McCourt said.

"Sure, if he gets voted in. It'd be a great honor."

The news of Ramirez's controversial All-Star candidacy made national headlines this week, but McCourt said he was unaware of where his $25-million left fielder stood in the balloting.

When informed, he said, "The fans are going to make up their own minds about this. I think fans think for themselves and they're entitled to do that."

McCourt, who watched the Dodgers earn a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Thursday, said he hasn't spoken to Ramirez since they met at the outfielder's Pasadena apartment on May 9.

McCourt maintained his stance that he didn't think it was necessary for Ramirez to explain how and why he violated baseball's drug policy.

McCourt said the mounting evidence that Ramirez used steroids hasn't changed his mind. Ramirez was suspended for having a prescription for HCG, but The Times reported that no trace of the female fertility drug was found in Ramirez's system and that the drug test Ramirez took in spring training was flagged for having an unusually elevated synthetic testosterone level, leading anti-doping experts to say that Ramirez took steroids.

"I don't have the expertise nor have I seen any of the tests or the results, so I'm not in the position myself to address any of it," McCourt said.

Sources in Ramirez's camp have indicated that he will offer few, if any, details of the circumstances that led to his suspension.

McCourt said he would be fine with that.

"Only he can decide what he should say," McCourt said. "Personally, I would look forward not backward. That's just my philosophy. But he's going to have to deal with this the way it's most comfortable for him to deal with it. I think once you acknowledged your mistake, what more is there to say?"

But for Ramirez to acknowledge his mistake, doesn't he have to say what the mistake was?

"Personally, I don't think so," McCourt said.

McCourt said his preference to "look forward and not backward" wasn't like that of suspected steroid user Mark McGwire, who said at a congressional hearing on performance-enhancing drugs in 2005 that he wasn't there to "talk about the past."

"It's a very different situation," McCourt said.

McCourt said he's pleased with the way Ramirez has handled the situation so far.

McCourt asked Ramirez to address his teammates and Ramirez did that in Florida two weeks ago.

Asked if he was concerned that Ramirez's performance as a Dodger has been fueled by steroids and that he might not be the same player when he returns on July 3, McCourt didn't answer the question directly.

"I think Manny is a very, very talented baseball player and I think he's going to come back and contribute," he said.

"That's all I have to say."

McCourt said he expects Ramirez to play in the minor leagues to prepare for his activation.

Under league rules, Ramirez will be permitted to play in as many as 10 minor league games.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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